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Courtney Castelino

Courtney Castelino A native of Montreal, Canada, Courtney loves the theatre, in general, and Broadway, in particular. She saw her first show when she was thirteen years old: a touring production of The Phantom of the Opera that opened her eyes to the world of musical theatre. As a teenager, Courtney took some drama and improv classes and performed in high school productions. She now lives in the Ottawa, Canada, area and enjoys going to New York and Toronto to see shows whenever she can.



BWW Review: Broadway Across Canada's Touring Production of CATS Proves Its Enduring Appeal
March 11, 2020

The touring production of CATS has changed in the more than fifteen years since I first saw it, but all of the elements that make the Andrew Lloyd Webber show a classic remain intact. The set is fairly simple: a junkyard where the cats congregate to celebrate the annual Jellicle Ball, when Old Deuteronomy (Adam Richardson) will choose which cat goes to the Heaviside Layer to be reborn. There are many contenders for the coveted position. We have Jennyanydots (Dani Goldstein), the seemingly lazy Gumbie cat who sleeps all day but works hard all night, demonstrated in a wonderful tap dancing sequence replete with a roaring twenties style flapper outfit. Then, there is the Rum Tum Tugger (McGee Maddox), the narcissistic, spoiled cat with the sexy swagger, who is a favourite of the lady-cats. Grizabella (Donna Vivino), the once glamourous cat, now past her prime and ostracized by the others. Gus, the Theatre Cat (Timothy Gulan), when aided by a toothful of gin, regales the audience with stories of his career on the stage, when he acted alongside theatre greats and once even 'understudied Dick Whittington's cat'. The Magical Mister Mistoffelees (PJ DiGaetano), shows off his impressive tricks and manages to conjure Old Deuteronomy, who was been kidnapped by Macavity (Brayden Newby), the nefarious 'Napoleon of crime'. Okay, so the plot is, perhaps, a little odd and the story may be disjointed. This is only natural, considering that the musical is based on a collection of whimsical poems written by T.S. Elliot for children. I think the reason CATS remains so popular after nearly forty years is because of the level of detail given to each character, from the costumes and make-up to each cat's story as they are introduced one by one, song by song, to the audience. Even the chorus cats have their own personalities. There is truly something for everyone in this show.

BWW Review: Orpheus' ROCK OF AGES Will Have You Rockin' in Your Seats at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe
March 8, 2020

Orpheus Musical Theatre's production of Rock of Ages is designed to get you in the rock 'n roll mood from the get-go, starting with the voice-over introduction warning the audience to prepare to have their 'faces melted'. The show has its very own narrator, Lonny (Brennan Richardson), whose energy and charisma is palpable. Lonny introduces the two main characters, Sherrie (Rana Laviolette) and Drew (Connor McMahon) and we are presented with their backstories so we get to know them better. Sherrie, originally from small-town Kansas, has come to L.A. with her heart full of hopes and dreams of making it big as an actress. Drew works as a bar back at the Bourbon Room, a famous watering hole known for its live music scene. Drew, himself, is an aspiring musician and prefers to be known by his stage name, Wolfgang Von Colt. Within moments of her arrival on the Sunset Strip, Sherrie is mugged. Drew sees the incident and invites Sherrie into the Bourbon Room. He manages to sweet-talk the Bourbon Room's owner, Dennis Dupree (Malcolm Scott), into giving Sherrie a waitressing job, even though the Bourbon has recently fallen on tough times (the view Dennis is treated to as Sherrie bends over to pick up a penny may have also been a contributing factor). While romance begins to blossom between Drew and Sherrie, we discover that a foreign property developer, Hertz Klineman (Wayne McNamara) and his son, Franz (Paddy Allen-McCarthy), have bribed L.A.'s mayor (Neil Cachero) in order to demolish the Sunset Strip and make way for a new development. Meanwhile, Dennis and Lonny try to drum up business by arranging for the great Stacee Jaxx (D.J. Eyamie) to have his final performance with Arsenal at the Bourbon Room, where the band got its start. After sparks sputter out between Sherrie and Drew, Sherrie and Stacee have a quickie in the men's washroom and Drew quits his job to take an offer he can't refuse. Sherrie ends up getting fired and goes to work at the Venus Club, owned by Justice 'Call me Mama' Charlier (Jerusha Lewis). Regina Koontz (Christa Cullain), the mayor's former assistant and now chief protester of the development project, tries to appeal to Franz' sensitive nature to circumvent the demolition. Lonny and Dennis come to a revelation. Incredibly, all these plot lines ultimately converge in bizarre ways and all's well that ends well (except, perhaps, for Stacee and the llama). The cast performances were a bit uneven, which was most apparent during some of the melodies for which the show is famous. More than one singer had trouble focusing on their individual parts to let the melodies harmonize, opting instead to try to sing over the others. This had the unfortunate effect of interrupting the flow of the intersecting melodies. Lewis and Eyamie were two notable exceptions but, regrettably, had smaller roles. Richardson also gave a strong performance as Lonny and was able to effectively hold the story together as the narrator. The choreography (Andy Allen-McCarthy) was superbly executed. The ensemble numbers were tight and a pleasure to watch. Taeyun Moon (Ensemble) and Katie Shapiro (Waitress #1, Ensemble) gave particularly strong performances. Lighting was generally effective; however, spotlights were used as a focal point in a number of scenes resulting in the actors' faces being obscured, as the spotlights only highlighted them from the waist down (at least from my vantage point). The costumes (Susan Cole) and stage direction (Andréa Black) were both well done - in particular, with the reveal of Franz and Regina's 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' outfits. The best songs were the big, showy, numbers with lots of ensemble chorus, such as 'Cum On Feel the Noize / Just Like Livin' in Paradise/ Nothing But a Good Time', 'We Built This City/Too Much Time on My Hands', 'Here I Go Again', and 'Don't Stop Believing'. Despite some flaws, the show is lots of fun and jam-packed full of songs that most people know and can sing along to. The audience clearly loved it; clapping in time to the music and laughing out loud at many of Lonny's antics. Rock of Ages is recommended for anyone nostalgic for 80s rock music and a fun storyline. This show would also make a fantastic date night. Some strong language and sexually suggestive scenes may make it best to let your littlest rockers sit this one out. Rock of Ages is at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe until March 15, 2020. For more information or to buy tickets, go to

BWW Review: Jivesh Parasram's TAKE D MILK, NAH? Tackles Identity and Self-Awareness at Ottawa's National Arts Centre
January 18, 2020

Jivesh Parasram is a Hindu-Indo-Caribbean-Canadian, born and raised in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Parasram spends the first twenty minutes of the show explaining what an identity play is and why he finds it so distasteful and pretentious (and for some odd reason, very trendy in Canadian theatre). He then spends the rest of the show essentially performing an identity play. Ironic, isn't it? However, this is not a bad thing: Parasram's experiences are unique and, yet, upon reflection, they are not so unique. After all, many of us - as refugees, immigrants, and first-generation Canadians - have felt excluded from so-called 'privileged' or normal society, unaccepted and wanting to belong to the homogenous group. Even members of society that outwardly seem to fit the norm may be bullied into feeling like outcasts. We do not necessarily identify ourselves as being marginalized or recognize that our experience is shared with other people in similar situations. Nor do we realize that these shared experiences can actually be powerful and inspire us to create societal changes. Or, further still, that these changes may lead us dangerously down the path of treating others in the same way that we have been treated.

BWW Review: Broadway Across Canada's WAITRESS Will Leave You Feeling Warm and Fuzzy - and Craving Pie
January 2, 2020

Waitress, adapted from the 2007 film of the same name, tells the story of Jenna Hunterson, a pie-maker/waitress working at Joe's Pie Diner somewhere in the southern United States. Jenna (Bailey McCall) is unhappily married to Earl (Clayton Howe), who is physically and emotionally abusive. When she finds out that she is pregnant, even though she doesn't want it, Jenna vows to keep the baby and find a way out of her loveless marriage. Her co-workers, the nerdy Dawn (Gabriella Marzetta) and the no-nonsense Becky (Kennedy Salters), have their own personal issues but provide much-needed comfort and support to Jenna.

BWW Review: Ottawa Musicals' ROBIN HOOD is Fun for the Whole Family
December 31, 2019

I was invited to attend Ottawa Musicals' opening night performance of Robin Hood at the Gladstone Theatre. Each holiday season, Ottawa Musicals puts on a pantomime performance specifically geared to families. This production of Robin Hood is full of song and dance numbers, as well as plenty of jokes (some for the kiddies; some for the adults). The story, written by Mark Allen - who also plays Little John - has a traditional Robin Hood plotline, but adds a couple of oddball characters for good measure.

BWW Review: MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY at the Ottawa Little Theatre is a Cozy Christmas Comedy
December 2, 2019

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley reunites Jane Austen fans with many of the characters from the author's most celebrated work, Pride and Prejudice. Mary (Ciana Van Dusen) and Jane (Chelsey Prince) join Elizabeth (Katie Torresan) and Mr. Darcy (Kurt Shantz) over the Christmas holiday at the Pemberley estate about two years after the events of the novel. A heavily pregnant Jane arrives at Pemberley with Mr. Bingley (Christian Giansante) and the still-single Mary accompanies them. Lydia (Emily White) arrives separately. About thirty seconds after she arrives, Mary discovers the library and is immediately engrossed in a book of maps. A new character, Arthur de Bourgh (Dave Coleman), has also been invited to spend the holidays at Pemberley. Arthur is Darcy's distant cousin and has recently inherited The Late Catherine de Bourgh's estate. When Arthur arrives, he and Mary feel an instant connection through their mutual interests, but misunderstandings and other circumstances soon arise to complicate matters.

BWW Review: COTTAGERS AND INDIANS at Ottawa's Great Canadian Theatre Company
November 30, 2019

As the antidote to our impending winter blues, Drew Hayden Taylor's Cottagers and Indians transports us to the serenity of Ontario's cottage country in summertime. We meet the story's two characters, Arthur Copper (Herbie Barnes), an Indigenous man of humble means, whose family has lived in the area forever, and Maureen Poole (Philippa Domville), a Caucasian upper-middle class woman who lives and works in the Toronto area, but has owned a cottage on Starling Lake for the last twenty or so years. It is evident in the first few minutes that there is no love lost between Arthur and Maureen. In fact, the air is decidedly icy, despite the warmth of the season.

BWW Review: Orpheus' Production of MATILDA THE MUSICAL at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe
November 25, 2019

Matilda The Musical is based on the book written by Roald Dahl of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame. It tells the story of Matilda Wormwood (Shelby Shannon-Caines, in a role that is alternated nightly with Sophia Pierce), a young girl with extraordinary intelligence and imagination. Her talents are dismissed by her parents, a used car salesman (Graeme Parke) and a beauty-obsessed mother (Hilary Peck). Matilda vows to a?oechange her storya?? by ensuring that she is not beaten down by their constant ridicule. She finds refuge in books and making visits to the local library where she captivates the librarian, Mrs. Phelps (Shondra Mings), with elaborate, imaginative stories. This is frowned upon by Matilda's parents, who decide to reign their daughter in by sending her to Crunchem Hall, a school with the motto Bambinatum est Magitum, translated to a?oeChildren are Maggotsa??. Crunchem's headmistress, Miss Trunchbull (Jason Swan), despises children, rules with an iron fist, and terrorizes disobedient students by putting them in a?oeThe Chokeya??, a torture chamber for kids. However, at Crunchem, Matilda also makes some friends, notably Lavender (Angela Cachero) and Bruce (Cooper Dunn). She is taught by Miss Honey (Melinda Hudson), a timid professor who, upon recognizing Matilda's potential, decides to take her under her wing. Eventually, Matilda and the other students decide to band together and revolt against Miss Trunchbull's bullying.

BWW Review: Ottawa Little Theatre's GASLIGHT Thrills This Halloween Season
October 28, 2019

The Ottawa Little Theatre's production of Patrick Hamilton's psychological thriller, Gaslight, takes the audience back to nineteenth century England and into the home of Bella (Heather Archibald) and her husband, Jack Manningham (J.T. Morris). Bella seems to be slowly going out of her mind, just like her mother did, as evidenced by her hiding of random household objects for no apparent reason, as well as her lapses in memory. Jack taunts Bella cruelly, rewarding her for being good with the promise of a night out at the theatre, before almost instantly rescinding the gift because she has misplaced a grocery receipt. Jack further threatens to place Bella in a lunatic asylum if her behaviour doesn't improve. When Jack goes out, a detective named Rough (Geoff Gruson) comes to the house, seeking Bella. He can see that Bella is distraught and, because of his caring demeanour, Bella confides her worst fear to him - she is going out of her mind. She tells Rough that, aside from hiding insignificant household items, she also hears noises when she is alone in the house and has noticed other odd things, like the gas lights dimming downstairs, as if someone is on the top level of the house, even though that floor is unused and off-limits. Rough gives Bella the house's macabre history, providing her with another, more horrifying, explanation for these events. Together, they set out to find the truth.

BWW Review: GCTC's BANG BANG Blends Humour and Drama in this Gripping Production at Ottawa's Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre
October 27, 2019

Canadian playwright Kat Sandler's Bang Bang is part of the Great Canadian Theatre Company's 2019-2020 season. It is a show that addresses controversial topics, including gun violence, police brutality, mental health, and the court of public opinion.

BWW Review: RENT in Ottawa - Vive la Vie Bohème!
October 24, 2019

Broadway Across Canada has finally brought the much anticipated 20th Anniversary Tour of Jonathan Larson's acclaimed rock opera, Rent, to Ottawa. Rent is loosely based on the classic Puccini opera, La Bohème but, instead of 1890s Paris, Larson's scene is set in the gritty back alleys of New York's Alphabet City at Christmastime in the early nineties. We meet the two main protagonists, who are down on their luck. Mark (Cody Jenkins) is an aspiring filmmaker and Roger (Coleman Cummings) is a former musician. They live in a slum apartment, burning items in a steel trash can for warmth. Mark's girlfriend, Maureen (Kelsee Sweigard), left him for a woman named Joanne (Samantha Mbolekwa). Roger's girlfriend, April, committed suicide after she discovered that both she and Roger had contracted AIDS. To make matters even worse, Mark and Roger are about to be evicted by their former friend and roommate, Benny (Jason Taylor Smith), who recently purchased the building with the intention of converting it into a high-tech cyber arts studio.

BWW Review: Orpheus Musical Theatre's FALSETTOS at Ottawa's Gladstone Theatre
September 9, 2019

I was invited to attend Orpheus Musical Theatre's opening night performance of Falsettos at the Gladstone Theatre. Falsettos was originally performed on Broadway in 1992, where it was nominated for seven Tony Awards and won two. It was then revived to high acclaim in 2016, where it was nominated for five Tonys, including Best Revival of a Musical. The story is set in 1979, at a time when a family unit was deemed to consist of a man, a woman and one or more children. A wife was expected to keep the house clean, prepare meals and offer up sex whenever her husband wanted it. Anything outside of this traditional family unit would have been considered abnormal.

BWW Review: COME FROM AWAY at the National Arts Centre - Southam Hall
August 23, 2019

Come From Away, the most anticipated show of Broadway Across Canada's 2018-2019 season, is based on the real life events that occurred when the United States closed its airspace in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Planes were instructed to land in Gander, Newfoundland, a tiny town with an airport that had previously served as a refueling station before jet engines allowed for Transatlantic flights. In all, 38 planes carrying about 7,000 passengers and crew descended on Gander, instantly almost doubling its population. The story is told from both sides, highlighting the kindness of the Islanders, who welcome strangers into their homes, as well as the fear and anxiety of the so-called Plane People as they gradually learn, and then struggle to understand, what has happened.

BWW Review: Ottawa's Orpheus Theatre Delivers Hits, Comedy and, Oh, So Much Camp with PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT THE MUSICAL
June 1, 2019

Priscilla: Queen of the Desert the Musical was adapted from the 1994 Academy-award winning Australian film, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The 2006 musical version also originated Down Under and was slightly changed for American audiences when it first hit the Great White Way in 2011. Orpheus' production is a hybrid of the two, comprising a diverse mix of 70s and 80s hits that will be instantly recognizable to most audience members. The story involves two drag queens, Tick/Mitzi (Andy Allen-McCarthy) and Adam/Felicia (DJ Eyamie), and a transgender woman, Bernadette (Shaun Toohey), on an adventurous road trip across the Australian outback in a camper-van, in order to perform at a casino resort run by Tick's wife, Marion (Andréa Black). Along the way, they meet a cast of characters, some friendly and some not so much, and the trio manage to get themselves into and out of scrapes through song and dance. Co-directors Toohey and Eyamie, who also star in the production, do not shy away from showing the discrimination and hatred that Tick, Adam, and Bernadette encounter on the road. Some scenes are almost difficult to watch, especially with the knowledge that these type of hate crimes are still perpetuated today. Ultimately, love and the power of friendship conquer all, and the overall message is a positive one.

BWW Review: THE KING AND I at Ottawa's National Arts Centre
March 14, 2019

Broadway Across Canada's performance of the Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved classic, The King and I, is everything you expect it to be: luxurious, with sparkling costumes and convincing set design, as well as talented vocals and choreography. The story is set in the mid-1800s, with the arrival of a British widow, Anna Leonowens, and her son, Louis, in Bangkok. The former has come to act as a schoolteacher to the King of Siam's children and wives. Anna also teaches the King some new words and phrases, notably the word 'etcetera', which he subsequently peppers across his speeches with gusto. The King's wives and children are bemused by Anna's clothes and mannerisms that are so different from their own, but they quickly learn to love Anna, and she loves them in return. When the King is accused of being a barbarian by foreigners, despite their many differences, Anna finds herself to be indignant and she and the King set out to rectify the situation.

BWW Review: Singing the Praises of Orpheus' Production of SISTER ACT in Ottawa at the Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe
March 10, 2019

I was invited to the opening night performance of Orpheus Theatre's new production of Sister Act at the Meridian Theatre @ Centrepointe. Sister Act is based on the 1992 movie of the same name, starring Whoopi Goldberg as the singing nun. Another story about a singing nun, you ask? Well this isn't your average nun… The plotline is somewhat reminiscent of the award-winning 1959 film, Some Like it Hot, starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe. In Sister Act, Deloris Van Cartier (Jerusha Lewis) is an aspiring singer auditioning at her boyfriend's cocktail bar in Philadelphia. After she witnesses a mob type hit, she goes on the lam and finds reluctant sanctuary at the struggling Queen of Angels convent with the residing Mother Superior (Mary Ellen Vice). Mother Superior insists that if she is to stay in the convent, she must cast aside her "sinful" ways and abide by the same rules as the other nuns. The only thing that saves Deloris from total despair is her opportunity to help guide the convent's atrocious choir, to whom she is introduced as Sister Mary Clarence.

BWW Review: THE NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA TRIPLE BILL at Ottawa's National Arts Centre - Southam Hall
February 2, 2019

The National Ballet, under the guidance of its artistic director, the legendary Karen Kain, brought Ottawa a treat this week. Three short ballets, each with a vastly different feel, graced the stage of Southam Hall.

BWW Review: BEAUTIFUL at Ottawa's National Arts Centre - Celebrating the Struggles and Successes of a Musical Legend
January 2, 2019

I was invited to the opening night performance of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical, the hit Broadway show celebrating the life and music of Carole King. The show is infused with many number one hits of the era, written by King (Elise Vannerson) and her husband, Gerry Goffin (Ben Biggers), including 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow', 'Some Kind of Wonderful' and 'The Locomotion'. In addition, King and Goffin had some intense competition through their friends and rivals, Cynthia Weil (Alison Whitehurst) and Barry Mann (Jacob Heimer). Weil and Mann's musical contributions include equally successful songs, such as 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling', which remains, to this day, the song with the most airplay on American radio. King's biographical journey takes the audience from her humble beginnings as a smarty-pants, sheltered teenager from Brooklyn - whose mother wants her to teach music rather than write it - to a sensational musical hit making machine, together with Goffin. Despite their success, it wasn't all sunshine and roses and King's struggles echo those of many working parents trying to find a work-life balance. King longs for a suburban house and traditional family but her husband wants to experience the showbiz life and becomes less and less interested in family life (not to mention, monogamy). King, battling self-esteem issues, ultimately finds the courage to break out on her own. This liberation results in her moving to California and releasing the Grammy award winning album, Tapestry. The show ends on a high note, with King at her piano at Carnegie Hall, celebrating her well-deserved success.

BWW Review: BED & BREAKFAST at the Great Canadian Theatre Company
December 11, 2018

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a performance of the Great Canadian Theatre Company's (GCTC) production of Bed and Breakfast. I was unsure what to expect, as I knew it was a two-man play and I am often wary of these types of shows because so much rides on the actors' ability, with very little margin for error. Not only was I not disappointed, but I was, in fact, astounded at how successfully Mark Crawford and Paul Dunn pulled it off. But more of that later. First let me give you a little background of the story. Published in 2015, Crawford's Bed and Breakfast explores what it is like for a same sex couple trying to make a life for themselves in a small town. It all begins with Brett (Crawford), an interior designer with his own TV show segment, and Drew (Dunn), a hotel concierge, looking to find a bigger place in Toronto. Featuring a plot many Torontonians (and Vancouverites) can relate to, Brett and Drew are continually disappointed as their real estate offers are outbid in the tight housing market. After another unsuccessful offer, Brett receives news that his Aunt Maggie has passed away unexpectedly and he has received an inheritance in the form of a beautiful old house that needs some work. Could this be the solution to Brett and Drew's housing troubles?

BWW Review: CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG - Orpheus Theatre Brings a Classic to Ottawa
November 24, 2018

Orpheus Musical Theatre's production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang coincides with the 50th anniversary of the classic movie of the same name, starring Dick van Dyke. The movie itself was based upon a children's book authored by Ian Fleming of James Bond fame. Orpheus' starring role was given to the car, Chitty - a beautifully crafted stage prop unlike any I have ever seen in this calibre of production. Kudos to the props team - they really outdid themselves. Caractacus Potts, played by Paul Melsness, was outstanding. He has a wonderful singing voice and stage presence and his charisma was apparent through the show. The children, however, were the real superstars. Sophie Pierce and Aleksander Rohozinski, playing the roles of Jemima and Jeremy Potts, respectively, have a natural talent for performing. Pierce, in particular, approached her role with gusto and both kids gave their roles 110%. Andrea Black, in the role of Truly Scrumptious, paled in comparison. She appeared to have difficulty reaching higher notes - with the notable exception of the 'Doll on a Music Box' number, where she gave a performance that completely enraptured the audience.